PPP calls for relief budget before polls

Coalition government has little space available to grant relief to people as it struggles to finalise a deal with International Monetary Fund

PPP to present relief-oriented budget in Sindh.

ISLAMABAD   -    Pakistan People’s Party is pressing the senior coalition partner, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), to present a ‘relief budget’ before going into the general elections, political sources said.

The coalition partners are double-minded about calling general elec­tions after the National Assembly’s five-year term expires in August. The PPP, eyeing a better performance in polls, would like something to play with when they step into the elec­tions. “The PPP has been urging the PML-N to present a poor-friendly budget. A relief-oriented budget will provide the ruling parties with some election claims and also please the general public,” said a senior PPP leader. He told The Nation that PPP Supremo Asif Ali Zardari wanted a ‘good budget’ ahead of the polls. “The PPP itself will provide a relief-oriented budget in Sindh (where the party leads the provincial govern­ment),” he added. Another PPP lead­er said the coalition partners were making all efforts to improve the fi­nancial situation before the National Assembly completes its term.

The coalition government howev­er, has little space available to grant relief to the people as it struggles to finalise a deal with the International Monetary Fund. Yesterday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan will share its upcoming budget de­tails with the IMF in order to unlock stalled funds. Hopes for a resumption of an IMF deal are diminishing, ana­lysts say, with a bailout programme agreed in 2019 due to expire on June 30 at the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year. Dar said he would like the IMF to clear its 9th review before the budget, which is due to be presented in early June, as all the conditions for that had already been met. The IMF funding is crucial for the $350 billion South Asian country, which faces an acute balance of payments crisis. This has raised concerns of a sovereign default, something which the minister dismissed. The IMF’s $ 1.1 billion funding to Pakistan, which is part of the $ 6.5 billion Extended Fund Facility agreed in 2019, has been held up since November.

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